Best Handsaw for Cutting 2x4 Boards

In this article I will show you the best hand saw to use for cutting 2x4 wood. This popular size of lumber is usually said or pronounced as "two by four."

This size of timber has a whole range of uses especially around the home and garden.

It is mainly used in all types of light structural lumber used in residential construction and is milled from softwood trees such as fir, hemlock, redwood, cedar, spruce and pine.

Quick Information on the Best Hand Saw for 2 x 4"

I do go into a lot of detail about which hand saw you should use for this job as there are a few choices. However I know some readers will not have the time to read all of this article.

Therefore if you are in a hurry, the saw I would recommend is the Stanley 20-526 15-Inch 12-Point/Inch SharpTooth Saw that comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Buyers rate this saw very highly, especially for hand cutting of 2 x 4.

The predominant use of the 2 x 4 size is for studs for walls. It is also used for framing and can also be used for making some furniture. Many people use redwood 2 x 4s for outdoor furniture such as decking, railing hot tubs, saunas etc

2 x 4 Cedar is used mainly in log cabins for exposed beams

Is 2x4 REALLY 2x4 in Size?

It is worthwhile including the following information for you as a short but important background to buying wood generally.

If you are new to woodworking or simply doing a DIY task around the home for the first time, and plan on using 2x4 wood, then be very careful. Although as I have mentioned this is known as two by four the reality is that it is not actually that size at all.

When the board is first roughly sawn from the log is it in fact 2x4. That is however quite a rough cut.

However when it is sold, it has been dried and then machine planed for a smoother finish. As a result the actual size is almost always 1 1/2" by 3 1/2" (38 x 89 mm)

That is quite a difference in what you think you are getting, and what you actually get. It is also important to know and understand if you are measuring up a job.

The same applies to many of the popular wood sizes:

  • 1 x 6" is actually 3/4" by 5 1/2"
  • 2 x 6" is actually 1 1/2" x 5 1/2"

I have included a full list of all the lumber nominal sizes and then the actual sizes. You can download that by clicking on the link just below.

Buying 2 x 4 Wood

You can buy the planed wood in many stores, however if you want the original rougher 2 x 4" wood most likely you will have to go to a lumber yard to get that.

It is usually cheaper than one that has been machined plane, but you will get much closer to the original size.

Which Hand Saw is Best for Cutting 2 x 4?

There are two types of cut on any piece of timber which are:

  1. Rip Cut - that is a cut along the grain - in other words you are making a cut in the same direction of the grain of the wood
  2. Cross Cut - you are cutting across the grain. This will be the most popular for 2x4 as you are usually cutting board to length

So for a hand saw the best choice is a cross cut hand saw.

The next thing you have to decide on is how smooth of a finish you want to have with the cut.

The best choice for a neat finish is a saw that is one that has 8-12 teeth per inch. This is not a very aggressive cut but you do get a pretty smooth cut and a good finish.

For most people the saw above will do the job really well. However if you want an even smoother cut then you will need what is called a back saw. You can also use something like a hand miter saw if you prefer that.

I have used both the back saw and the hand miter saw before and honestly they are just too slow. They do give you a very neat finish, but the cutting just takes too long.

Those two types of saw are fine for cutting miters, tenons or dovetails but just too slow for getting your way through some 2 x 4 boards.

The hand saw shown above is one of the best sellers on the market. If you are someone who wants a great smooth finish, then this type of saw guarantees that. Personally for me I have never needed that smooth a finish on a piece of 2 x 4 or a 2 x 6".

Hand Saw vs Power Saw for Cutting 2 x 4"

It is worth mentioning though that cutting through a 2x4" board is a hard enough task if you are going to use a hand saw.

It is fine for doing just a few boards on a small DIY project. However if you have a lot of boards to cut for something like a decking or a larger project, then forget about using a hand saw to do that.

You would be much better off using a reciprocating saw. That type of saw is basically a hand saw that uses electric power. It takes most of the manual work out of sawing, and just a little practise to get used to it.

There are other types of electric saw that can also easily get through a 2 x 4 but the reciprocating one is the cheapest for this type of rough work.

You can click here to view my top 10 list of reciprocating saws.

You could also use a powered hand saw, circular saw, miter saw or a table saw.

Video - How to Use a Hand Saw to Cut 2x4?

I found this useful video on how to properly use a hand saw. This is the exact technique you should use to get through a 2 x 4" board.

Just remember that the cut shown here is a cross cut. If you are doing a rip cut on a 2 x 4, then you can use a 12 tooth saw, but you can also use a hand saw with 4-6 teeth for faster cutting.

Most people should just use a 10-12 tooth blade for both as there is no reason to buy two saws with two different blades.

Summary of Cutting 2 x 4

Some homeowners just like using hand tools and for small DIY projects these are usually adequate. For the bigger jobs though, I would recommend going for a reciprocating saw.

That will take the manual effort out of sawing, make the whole job a great deal faster, and it will cut much straighter lines.

If you are going for a hand saw then a saw with between 10-12 teeth per inch is a good choice.

Enda McLarnon
 

Enda McLarnon is now retired and is now enjoying writing about his love of power tools. All types of these tools are now available and they make working on projects and DIY jobs around the home a great deal of fun